KOTA KINABALU: Fresh faces and a return of veterans will grace the line-up of the Barisan Nasional in Sabah as the ruling party braces for the general election.
At least 25 new faces are said to be among the candidates the eight-party coalition will be banking on to retain the state government and expand Barisan's presence in the Dewan Rakyat.
The infusion of new blood is expected to come from all the component parties with professionals, grassroots leaders, businessmen and young politicians from the rank-and-file making up the “freshies”.
Former chief minister Datuk Salleh Tun Said, who headed the state government in the mid-90s, is likely to make a political return and vie for either a state or parliamentary seat.
There could be swaps between state and parliamentary incumbents amid speculation that Kalabakan MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin might be involved.
Component party heads Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (PBS), Tan Sri Bernard Dompok (Upko), Tan Sri Joseph Kurup (PBRS) and Datuk V.K. Liew (LDP) will be in the race while Chief Minister and state Barisan chief Datuk Seri Musa Aman is set to defend his Singai Sibuga state seat.
Pairin, the incumbent assemblyman in Tambunan and Keningau MP, is likely to defend both seats.
State Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang, who left LDP to join Gerakan, is among those speculated to be dropped as a candidate as the ruling state coalition looks at new faces for rejuvenation.
Barisan sources said the six contentious seats previously held by SAPP had more or less been settled.
In announcing the Sabah state assembly dissolution after meeting Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin at 3.40pm, Musa said Sabah needed continuity that only Barisan could ensure.
Currently, Barisan holds 57 state and 20 parliamentary seats (Umno: 32 state, 12 parliamentary; PBS: 12 state, three parliamentary; Upko: six state, three parliamentary; LDP: two state, one parliamentary; Gerakan: three state; PBRS: one state and one parliamentary; and MCA: one state.
On the Opposition side, SAPP has two state and two parliamentary seats) and DAP one state seat and one parliamentary seat.
Two former Barisan MPs, Datuk Lajim Ukin (Beaufort) and Datuk Wilfred Bumburing (Tuaran), are independents aligned with Pakatan Rakyat.
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